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Nike+iPod FAQ

Clicking around the web, I’ve noticed a lot of questions about the Nike+iPod Sport Kit popping up over and over again. While the answers to most of them can be found within this site, it sometimes takes a little digging. To help save you time, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most common Nike+iPod questions and answers below.

Do I need to buy the special Nike+ shoes to use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit?

No. The Nike+iPod can be used with any pair of running shoes. The only thing “special” about the Nike+ shoes is a small compartment in the shoe’s insole which holds the Nike+ sensor. As long as the sensor is properly and securely attached to your shoe, you will get the same results that you would with the Nike+ shoes.

How do I attach the Nike+iPod sensor to my shoe?

There are several methods for attaching the Nike+iPod sensor to your shoe, ranging from free do-it-yourself projects to moderately priced retail products specifically designed for the job. See my list of Nike+iPod Shoe Hacks and Accessories for details.

I don’t own an iPod nano. Can I use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit with my iPod video / iPod classic / iPod mini / iPod shuffle?

Nope. The Nike+iPod Sport Kit only works with the iPod nano at this time (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation). It’s widely thought that because regular iPods use hard drives, which can freeze or skip if jostled, Apple doesn’t want to officially encourage people to run with them. The iPod shuffle doesn’t have a standard dock connector, which is required for attaching the Nike+iPod receiver. The iPod mini was discontinued before the Sport Kit was released, and probably won’t see a software update to make it compatible with the Sport Kit. Apple is in the business of selling new Pods, after all.

Does the Nike+iPod Sport Kit work with the iPhone or iPod Touch?

No. Even though the iPhone and iPod touch use flash memory (like the nano), Nike+iPod isn’t supported at this time.

How accurate is the Nike+iPod Sport Kit?

Surprisingly accurate. Results vary from person to person, but there’s rarely more than a couple hundredths of a mile difference on my three-mile run from day to day. Since the time and distance are being measured accurately, I can only assume that variations in my pace are being measured accurately, too.

At the Nike Store I was told that the Nike+iPod sensor is more accurate when used with Nike+ shoes. Is this true?

No. The Nike salespeople want to sell you Nike shoes, and they’re stretching the truth when they say this. It is true that if you attach the sensor to your shoes loosely or incorrectly, it will give you inaccurate results… but it’s pretty simple to do it the right way.

Isn’t is true that you need to step on the sensor for it to register your footsteps?

No, that’s a myth that started soon after the Sport Kit was announced. The sensor is not a pedometer, it’s an accelerometer which measures your foot in motion and at rest, and from those measurements it can calculate your stride, speed, and distance. A look inside the sensor suggests that it reads vibrations from your foot hitting the ground, but not from actually having any pressure applied to it.

I don’t run. Does the Nike+iPod Sport Kit work for walking, too?

Yes. The Nike+iPod Sport Kit measures walking as accurately as it measures running. There’s even a calibration setting especially for walking.

Can I use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit on a treadmill?

People report mixed results when using the Nike+iPod Sport Kit on a treadmill. Personally, I found it to be much less accurate than on solid ground. The difference between the treadmill mileage reading and the Sport Kit mileage was over 10%, which I don’t find to be very useful. One reason may be the difference in mechanics; On a treadmill, both feet are always moving – the one on the belt backward, and the one in the air forward – while your body remains stationary. When running on the ground, one foot remains stationary while your whole body moves forward.

Can I use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit on a bicycle or elliptical machine?

No. I have yet to find any reports of people getting accurate readings when on a bicycle or elliptical machine. One thing the sensor reads is the vibration produced when your foot hits the ground, which doesn’t happen when using either of these two contraptions.

I just went for my first run with my Nike+iPod Sport Kit, but the mileage results were way off. What’s wrong with this POS?

If you’re getting wildly inaccurate readings from your Nike+iPod Sport Kit, it’s probably due to one of these two things: 1) Your sensor isn’t attached to your shoe properly. The sensor needs to be logo-side up, relatively parallel with the ground, and positioned length-wise on your shoe. In addition, it needs to be attached tightly, with no room to move, shift, or bounce around during your run. If you’ve checked all of that and you’re still having the same problem, then 2) You have a defective Kit. Take it back to the Apple store and ask for an exchange. Apple has been very good about exchanging poorly functioning Sport Kits.

How can I improve the accuracy of my Nike+iPod Sport Kit?

The Sport Kit has a built-in calibration mode which helps to fine-tune the accuracy based on your individual running style. Here’s an in-depth guide to calibrating your Sport Kit.

This list is a work in progress. I’ll be adding to it regularly, so check back from time to time. If you have a question that you think should be addressed here, or have any feedback you’d like to share, feel free to post below.

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61 Responses to “Nike+iPod FAQ”

  1. Purpleness says:

    I have used Nike+ on the treadmill and found that it was more accurate than the treadmill itself. After reading blogs and testing both for several weeks I find that treadmills don’t give accurate readings, they give approximations when you are working out depending on the settings you put in. I ran the same distance and time on flat ground and got the same results with the Nike+ as I did when I use it on the treadmill. Where I burned 350 calories according to Nike+, the treadmill stated that I only burned 150. This is after 30 minutes of running.

    Nothing is wrong with running on the treadmill, it’s not as accurate as I thought it would be.

  2. Kyle says:

    Same questions as Bob earlier. Is it possible to edit your run data? I pressed the menu button after my run but forgot to press end run afterwards and my run went for another 4 minutes before I stopped it, thus dragging down my mile/min.


  3. alex says:

    Hi all,

    Has anyone found a hack to charged an empty sensor???

    About to buy another one (3rd). And no i haven’t run for 2000 hours, but somehow the batteries run out of energy.


  4. Andy says:

    Hey, my Nike+ sensor went dead again after about 600 mi so instead of buying a new one I found a site that gives you step by step instructions on replacing the battery. It’s MUCH simpler than I thought and it works great. I’ve been running with it for 4 months without a problem. The site is:
    Hope this helps!

  5. fabien says:


    I have a nike armband to stick my ipod in when i go running.
    I found that the ipod gets wet in the back. Is it dangerous for the ipod (dont think so cos its stainless steel) and is there a solution to prevent that ?


    ps : can u reply on my email address too ?


  6. Love the new Ipod Nano 4 style, but this version seems very flimsy. Anyone else think so ?

  7. dennismcg says:

    For those asking about the iPod Touch… if you check the Nike+iPod pages on apple.com, you will see that it now works with the Touch as well as the Nano. Here is the link: http://www.apple.com/ipod/nike/run.html

  8. KO says:

    Do you think you should update regarding the use of the Nike+ with iPod Touch? Since there is now iPod Touch 2.

  9. Bree says:

    How accurate is the sensor? I bought the nike sensor this summer to help me pace myself during the half marathon. When the man in the sensor told me i have 2 miles remaining, in reality I had 4!! Imagine my shock!!

  10. Violet says:

    Hi, I’m very new at this, I hope you can help me out. I just bought a pair of Lunar Trainer (women, of course) and I want to use the nikeplus tracking thing. I currently own an iPod Nano (I think 2nd Gen silver 2gb).

    My questions are:
    1) Will my nano work for the nikeplus tracking?
    2) Does the Lunar Trainer already contain the sensor thingy?
    3) How do I get those two to work together?

    Thank you so, so much.

  11. haley says:

    dose anyone know where i can buy one of those clip things to put on my trainers to hold my nike plus chip in.